(by Serena, Team Leader, Peer Learning Assistant Program)
I live in a house of six females and a hamster. Distractions permeate through the thin walls of my room. When I was assigned to co-present a workshop on focus and concentration last year, I didn’t think any of the learning strategies would work for me. Fortunately, I was wrong. One of the best and easiest ways to combat a flaky attention span is to use a Worry Pad.
The concept is simple: whenever a distracting thought occurs, write it down on the pad and set a time to deal with it later. This learning strategy is my favourite because it fosters mindfulness, or living in the present and not allowing the past (last night’s shenanigans) or the future (what’s for dinner?) to intrude upon the current task (my term paper).
Also, instead of wasting cognitive space by holding unnecessary thoughts in my working memory, using the Worry Pad puts them into concrete filing space. As a result, I can dedicate more energy to completing the present exercise.
Another cool thing about the pad is that it can help you sleep, too. The period just before we doze off is often wrought with anxiety about all the things we have to do tomorrow. If you keep the pad by your bedside, you can write down your to-do’s and forget about them until the morning.
By extracting unwanted thoughts, we minimize distractibility and prioritize in a single step. My only caveat is that you have to set aside strict times to deal with each item on your pad, or else you’ll just end up with a long list of chores. So here’s my sales pitch: it’s more compact, more affordable, and more durable than the iPad; it’s the Worry Pad! Pick one up at your local dollar store. 🙂